I think there is no wisdom comparable to that of exchanging what is called realities of life for dreams - Horace Walpole (1776)
Drawing inspiration from Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, the exhibition aims to create an ideal setting to act in defiance towards aesthetic and social conventions. With the realisation of Strawberry Hill, Walpole appropriated and employed Gothic architectural elements and themes in order to challenge the ideologically conservative and patriarchal society that surrounded him. Walpole considered his house on Strawberry Hill to be a complex projection of his subjectivity, a place that would exemplify artistic freedom, lawlessness and liberty - the ideal setting for his personal Gothic fantasy.
Today, the Gothic imaginary assumes a variety of forms and is channeled across different media, creeping its way through the corridors of our brains, feeding on the unfamiliarity of the familiar. The Gothic is defined by Halberstam as “a technology of subjectivity, one which produces the deviant subjectivities opposite the normal, healthy, and the pure”, skewing our given truths through the transgression of categorical distinction and its emphasis on duality. The Gothic flips reality upside down, functioning as a necessary articulation of the repressed underside of society’s humanistic values, allowing the true monster within ourselves to de-monstrate itself. It becomes a space in which the boundaries of good and evil dissolve and where fantasy coexists with reality - echoing the all-too-relevant motto of William Burrough’s imaginary Interzone City in Naked Lunch, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted”.
Strawberry Hill serves as a nexus for a variety of shared anxieties, such as the intrusion of the Other into everyday life, fears of unknown due from the un-processable changes of technological advances, and the desire for behavioural alterity.
Fari Quae Sentiat, “Say what one feels”, reads the motto above the chimney in the library of Strawberry Hill.